With #NBARank now in the midst of announcing the top 50 players in the NBA, Laker fans have probably noticed that some of their favorite players have yet to show up on the board. It stands to reason that the purple and gold will be very well represented in the top 50 given the amount of talented athletes on the roster. And true enough, Lamar Odom was announced today as the 44th best player in the NBA according to #NBARank.
Some might feel that the left-handed power forward should be rated higher whereas others might argue that he should have been rated lower, but his rating seems to be just about perfect.
Odom averaged 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game on 53 percent field goal shooting last season predominantly coming off the bench (started 35 games). The numbers mind you, do not capture the scope of his contributions for the Lakers.
At 6’10, L.O. has the rare ability to rebound in traffic and take off with the ball to lead the fast break and feed a teammate for a score or simply take it all the way for a coast-to-coast finish. In addition, much like a young Rasheed Wallace, the former Rhode Island player can play just about every frontcourt position depending on match ups and create havoc for the opposition given his capability to score from just about every spot on the floor.
Lamar can spot up from beyond the arc to drill shots (he shot 38.2 percent from downtown last season but is a 32.1 percent career 3-point shooter), score on the block, drive passed most big men given his superior quickness and also convert midrange jump shots.
Consequently, Odom gives the Lakers flexibility that most teams can only dream of: they can play ultra-big with Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum or if they want to outrun their opponents, they can trot out a smaller and quicker line up with Steve Blake, Shannon Brown, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol; or simply even have Artest play power forward and Odom play center with the three-guard look.
The Lakers sixth man offers versatility on the court reminiscent of Hall of Fame player Scottie Pippen.
Granted, he is not the scorer or playmaker that Pippen was nor is he in the same class as the former Bulls star on defense; however Odom’s size and quickness allow for him to be able to play different types of players and give them fits. On a typical night, the artist formally known as Ron Artest would draw the job of guarding the best perimeter player on the opposing team, however should he get into foul trouble, Odom has the tools to be able to guard the likes of Andre Iguodala, LeBron James and Danny Granger to name a few. In the event that his services are not required out on the perimeter, he will instead focus his efforts on players such as Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki when playing alongside Gasol.
Needless to say, Odom is a very skilled player that gives the Lakers a lot of variety in the amount of looks they can throw at teams. But one of his biggest contributions on the team may very well be his acceptance of his role. Indeed, his basketball gifts could easily have made him a greedy player seeking the adulation of the public; and thus he could have been a player that chases shots. Instead, he is more than content with getting his limited scoring opportunities, doing the dirty work on the boards and occasionally creating easy looks at the basket for the likes of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
In truth, Lamar Odom may be one of the most underappreciated players in the NBA today when we look at what he brings to the table across the board. He was an integral part to the Lakers back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 thanks in large part to his production as well as his durability and yet he was a much better player during the 2010-11 regular season after his stint with the U.S. team during the World Championships last summer.
Being ranked the 44th best player in the league should come as no surprise for those who follow the Lakers but it is nonetheless a sign that others have noticed that Lamar Odom is one of the best rotation players in the league.